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Philip Mallegol-Hansen

The Day 1 Gbps Wasn’t Enough

I recently mentioned the manager who tried to teach me not to let perfect be the enemy of good. But framing the question as good vs. perfect can sometimes be an oversimplification. What was good yesterday, is today inadequate and in need of change, not to become more perfect, but simply to remain good in a new context. The decision about what constitutes “good enough” must be continually reevaluated.

One of many contexts in which this is true is computer networking. Standards, and hardware that implements them, which used to be good, perhaps even great, become relics of the past in mere decades. As our appetite for sharing data of increasingly large volumes, with increasing speed, seems to know no end, the technology that enables this transmission keeps evolving.

I started my journey into computer networking just over a decade ago, at that time the concept of 1 Gbps (One Gigabit per second, or one Gigabyte every 8 seconds) seemed so fast it was outlandish. Portal 2, then a new game clocking in at a 8 Gigabyte total size, would have taken 60 seconds to download at that speed. It is nearly twice as fast as the fastest Blue-ray read speed, making it significantly faster to get bits from some far away server, than the ones in your very own possession.

As with so many things that once seemed outlandish, the availability of gigabit-per-second residential internet is no longer a dream. but a reality. In the case of my own household, the day that reality came into effect was Tuesday, September 26th 2023. Roughly 13 years after I first learned about Gigabit Ethernet, it became obsolete to me. As I now start to mentally inventory each of the components of my network that is preventing me from enjoying more than just 1 Gbps (I pay for 1.2), I’m reminded once again:

Maybe this is good enough, at least for today.